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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC relieved 'national shutdown' didn't see light of day as SA rebuilds after July unrest


24 August 2021

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it was relieved that calls for a national shutdown on Monday were not heeded.

The commission said it was encouraged by law enforcement agencies' pro-active response. Various agencies collaborated to ensure that there were measures in place to prevent any unrest similar to the riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July, which claimed more than 300 lives.
The national shutdown threats started circulating on social media last week.

News24 previously reported that the flyers and social media posts used to rally support did not state who was behind the call.

Included in the threat, was a call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign.

The NatJOINTS said on Sunday that it was aware of inflammatory messages on various social media platforms that advocated for violence.

Security in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng was tight on Monday in the event of any action. The two provinces experienced severe looting and violence during the July unrest. Although several measure were in place, areas were seemingly calm, including the N3 highway which connects the two provinces.

N3 Toll Concession operations manager Thania Dhoogra said there were no reports of disruptions to the flow of traffic on the N3 route between Cedera and Heidelberg. In thee July unrest, the route was closed as protesters torched trucks.

The SAHRC said it recognised people's right to freedom of expression and to protest, but reminded South Africans that these were limited to protect the human rights of others.

Call for calm

"The right to freedom of expression is limited as not to extend to incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred that is based on certain grounds, amongst many others.

"The commission is thus concerned that some expressions advocating for the #NationalShutdown were xenophobic, could be deemed to incite violence and raised concerns for a repeat of the carnage we experienced during July 2021," SAHRC spokesperson Gushwell Brooks said.

He added that protest action, as a right, was limited to peaceful gatherings conducted in an unarmed manner.

"It is incumbent on community and protest leaders to ensure, amidst an unrelenting third Covid-19 wave, that regulations are adhered to in order to prevent the further spread of the pandemic."

The commission called for calm and social cohesion, rather than the promotion and exacerbation of divisions and action that could lead to violence and damage to property, and target vulnerable groups.

It added that it would continue to play its role in fostering social cohesion and monitoring the situation.


Source: News24

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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